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. Italy to make garbage dumps 'military zones': Berlusconi

by Staff Writers
Naples, Italy (AFP) May 21, 2008
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced Wednesday that garbage dumps in Naples would be declared "military zones" and guarded by troops, in a bid to resolve the city's rubbish crisis.

"Sites and facilities linked to waste disposal will be declared zones of strategic national interest, becoming in effect, military zones guarded by members of the armed forces," Berlusconi told reporters after a cabinet meeting in the southern city.

Tens of thousands of tonnes of untreated waste have piled up in and around Naples in recent months as a 14-year problem over a lack of incinerators reaches a new peak.

Berlusconi said the government had identified five new sites in the Naples region that would be used as garbage dumps, and added that their location would be made public in the coming days.

Despite the severe nature of the rubbish crisis, there is sizeable public opposition in Naples to the creation of new dumps because of concerns that they will encroach on residential areas.

At the same time, many landfills in the region are controlled by the Camorra mafia, which is believed to illegally ship in industrial waste from the north for landfill disposal, and oppose new incinerators.

Berlusconi said anyone convicted of inciting unrest over the creation of new garbage sites would face a possible five-year prison term.

Wednesday's cabinet meeting also appointed Guido Bertolaso, currently civil security chief, as a junior minister with specific responsibility for resolving the rubbish crisis.

Berlusconi said Bertolaso's task was comparable to dealing with a major natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a volcanic eruption.

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